SEATTLE — Their boat may never have been sinking, but the Seattle Sounders were definitely taking on water at several points this season.
After winning their second straight game – a 3-0 victory over FC Dallas on Saturday – to move to within two points of a playoff spot, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid says his team is finally and firmly shipshape.
“The guys never gave up belief,” Schmid said. “But there were things that we needed to do better and guys stepped up their games. Everybody has stepped up their game.”
Schmid singled out midfielder Mauro Rosales for particular praise. A week after the Argentine playmaker broke a personal string of eight consecutive appearances without a goal or an assist, he added another.
Rosales’ free kick to set up Obafemi Martins’ header in the 9th minute got the Sounders on the scoreboard first and they never looked back. Eddie Johnson added a goal in the 22nd minute off a Brad Evans assist and Evans finished off the scoring with a second-half stoppage time penalty, but the way the Sounders defended those goals almost didn’t seem to matter. FC Dallas was held without a single shot on target and rarely even threatened the goal until late in the second half.
It was as complete a performance as the Sounders have had in at least a couple months.
“We’re getting better as a team,” said Johnson, who scored his first goal since May 18. “We’re not where we want to be, but it’s the second part of the season and this is where teams start to show their identity.”
That identity looks like a team that is increasingly difficult to beat at home. The Sounders set a new franchise record by running their home unbeaten streak to nine games (6-0-3) and have not lost at CenturyLink Field since their season opener.
“It has to be a thing where it becomes a theme,” Evans said. “Not just nine games unbeaten and we take it for granted. It has to be something that carries on. That’s something that other teams recognize. You want this to be a fortress. The fans deserve it, we deserve it and it’s something that is in the back of our mind.”